Just say No – Reforms to Self-education Expense Deductions

The Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) Association Inc, on behalf of our members, would like to express our concern regarding reforms to self-education expense deductions, as recently announced by the Federal Government.

The PCO Association is a national not-for-profit member-based industry association representing conference, meetings and events managers. Our members collectively organise over 70% of the conference, meetings and business events convened throughout Australia per annum, with a spend by these business events customers worth in excess of $10b per annum (source: Tourism Research Australia 2011). The majority of these business events are hosted by not-for-profit organisations.

The industry is already feeling the impact of various State Government cut-backs on conference attendance, and to impose an additional dis-incentive for potential delegates to invest in their professional development by attending business events is a cause of major concern throughout the sector, in particular, the policy will:

  • Adversely impact the sustainability of Australia’s not-for-profit sector, many only just recovering from the impact of the GFC
  • Lead to a decline in the overall skill levels of Australian employees
  • Adversely affect the young and those just starting in careers
  • Adversely affect the competitiveness of Australian workers in the global marketplace
  • Adversely affect the viability of PCO businesses throughout Australia

The PCO Association urges the Federal Government to reconsider this retrograde step and reconsider the implementation of this policy for the sake of the not-for-profit sector, the business events industry, and the Australian economy.

Complete our petition and auto-send to the Treasurer

Footnote: Thank you to the 3011 people who completed the petition form, we have taken it down for a while.  With the change of PM and Treasurer and the likely change of Government we think the issue is off the agenda for the time being.  We will monitor the situation after the election.

The Importance of your Event Brand

As I sat down to write this I was tempted to kick off with a couple of classic arguments about “giving your branding the business edge” and “helping your business grow”, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it all before and know the what and why. Instead I would like to pay credit to those who have done it well, the events that have a good, immediately recognisable brand that communicates clear values and carries a reputation, and expand on that.  How can that be translated to your event?

Whether a conference or expo, consistent branding gives the impression of a well-constructed and organised event (regardless of the possible pandemonium behind the scenes) to your sponsors, delegates and guests. It’s not just a logo and tagline; it needs to convey professionalism, integrity and value to your stakeholders. What signals does your event brand send? Does it have longevity? Will it keep people coming back?

Hosting a conference takes a lot of planning and logistics so branding often gets left until the last minute. Invitations, emailers, sponsorship and registration brochures, press ads, presentations, not to mention pulling the handbook together and getting it printed before the event starts – assuming all your speakers show up!

It might seem like I’m waving a self-promotion flag right now, but as an event organiser you know it is crucial to align yourself with the right people to fulfill critical roles for your event; a creative agency is no exception. A team familiar with the mechanics of how events work, what is involved and what can be done to make it easier for you is priceless. Take the time to consider your suppliers and partners; it could help take your event to the next level. Everything you do, each element from the colours and texture of your signage and collateral to the staff you hire, should be carefully thought out and reflect your event brand.

Great spiel, but can I walk the talk? We are involved in over 10 separate events in Australia this year and I would like to share one particular success with you. We are proud to be the creative agency and branding partner for Carbon Expo Australasia, now going into its fifth year. It is the premier carbon-centred conference in the Asia-Pacific and has drawn the attention of rivals from Singapore and Europe. Five years ago we pitched for the account from a blank canvas and we have enjoyed being part of the incredible growth year to year. Originally on the Gold Coast, it moved to Melbourne in its 3rd year to facilitate its expansion and development.

We manage the entire event brand for the conference director, looking after all the general paraphernalia including sponsorship and registration brochures, advertising, website, emailers and signage needs, for both the event and sponsors where required. We also look after media, managing webcasting and photography. To see the professional result of end-to-end brand management, visit their website carbonexpo.com.au

Most events that I have been to are well planned and I take my hat off to the organisers and their ability to take an idea and deliver an expo of quality exhibitors or a conference bursting with satisfied delegates. All you need to do is take that knowledge and power to achieve and ice the cake with a strong and consistent brand.

Phil Winton is the Creative Director and CEO of Admedia Creative.

Shifting Out of Broadcast Mode

With the widespread acceptance of social networking as a viable means of business communication, professional conference organisers have more power than ever to promote their events. Sarah Mitchell explains why adopting an engagement model is vital for your success.

Social media has become the great equaliser for corporate promotion. No longer are we at the mercy of PR agencies or media gurus simply because of their connections. Even the sole proprietor now has the ability to attract attention and get their news and events out to a wide audience without a big budget.

It’s not hard to embark on a social media campaign to build interest in your next event. With little more than a faint idea of how to navigate the internet, you can set up a Facebook page, start a LinkedIn discussion group or tweet your very first event registration notice. Social networking tools are designed for ease of use and even the most reluctant PCOs can quickly become converts.

The barrier to success comes because most people forget the credo of social media is that it has to be social. Because we’ve been conditioned to broadcast our event details to every corner possible, it’s easy to lapse into a one-way communication where we’re doing all the talking.  Operate in an outbound broadcast mode – the error of many organisations and almost all newcomers to social networking – and you’ll never gain influence with your audience.  The people you’re most trying to reach won’t even bother to tune in.

Moving into a true model of engagement isn’t has difficult as you may think. There’s no reason to go ‘off message’ either. Consider everything you’re doing to be part of a conversation. Craft your posts and profile updates like you are speaking with one person. As with face-to-face communications, make sure you’re asking questions and answering questions asked of you.  Say hello and goodbye, address people by name and always thank anyone who has shared your information. These little touches are easy to do and attach a human flair to your brand.

Make no mistake, creating a socially engaging profile for your company can be time consuming. When you move away from broadcast mode, you put yourself in the role of content curator. Since you’re not talking about yourself all the time, you need to find relevant information to share with your audience. Jay Baer at Convince and Convert {1} conducted research showing the sweet spot for content curation is a 40/60 split; 40 per cent of your social media activity points back to you, 60 per cent is external to your business.

There’s no need to panic because you probably already know where to find the other 60 per cent of the content. Your first stop should be speakers and sponsors for your event. These people usually jump at the chance to contribute original content or are delighted to have you share something they’re already written. The daily newspaper, industry publications and your favourite blog posts all contain content you can share with your audience.

Your corporate message can stay the same; just put it in a friendly wrapper. Next time you think about sharing a media release, preface the title with a “Guess what’s happening?” sentence. When you post an event on Twitter, add a few words to grab the attention of your reader like “Hot topic” or “Check out this line-up of speakers”.  Readers soon get the idea they’re dealing with real people, not just a talking head. Once you have their attention, the conversation really begins.

Sarah Mitchell is Director – Site Content at AMMA miningoilandgasjobs.com. She frequently writes and speaks on the broad topics of social media and content marketing. You can reach her at smitchell@miningoilandgasjobs.com.